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SPAIN: Catalonia

Hank Levin says: "Of course, the Catalanes include the Valencianos in their count. Why is this a surprise, given the linguistic and cultural similarities? Only the most fervent include those on the French side of the border. Also, as in the U.S., many people ally themselves with political parties for pragmatic reasons (not wanting to waste a vote or voting for the least objectionable alternative), even though they detest both of the major parties or both of the major candidates. Look at the "race" for the California governorship? I predict that most people in California will vote along party lines, even though they look with disgust on both candidates, but will not waste votes on unelectable splinter candidates that offer alternatives. My experience among a relatively educated group in both the small villages of Catalonia, Gerona (where I will return in November) and Barcelona is that the positive view of independence is much more widespread than 9 percent of the electorate. I am not arguing that independence has been thought-through in great detail or that it is the uppermost issue in Catalonia. Probably, disgust with the performance of the stock-exchange and concerns about immigration are more commonly heard subjects, although disdain for Madrid runs rampant through everyday conversations. I think that your perspective of splitting the government ministries between Madrid and Barcelona might be a real possibility. It would probably calm some of the sentiment for independence".

My comment: Clearly Hank has absorbed the Catalan "nationalist" viewpoint. Emotions color facts. When I mention the hostility of Valencianos to being lumped together with the Catalans, angry messages from Barcelona deny this. A similar problem exists regarding the Balearic Islands. We shall have to pay more attention to opinion polls and elections. Unfortunately these issues seem intractable to reason.

Ronald Hilton - 7/27/02